When authorities arrived at the scene they found her husband, 48-year-old Martin Rodriguez, injured on the house's side porch, said Oak Forest police Chief Gregory Anderson. He was taken to South Suburban Hospital and then transferred to Advocate Christ Medical Center in critical condition. Emergency responders found Erica Rodriguez afterward, when they made their way into the home.
The couple's children -- Sylvia, 17, Andrew, 15, and Gloria, 6 -- were at school when the fire struck.
Anderson said the cause of the fire and injuries had not been determined.
Martin Rodriguez's daughter, 27-year-old Alejandra Rodriguez of Grand Rapids, Mich., had visited the family in September.
She said her stepmother, Erica Rodriguez, worked weekends so she could spend more time with her children during the week and attend their athletic events.
"She was a very good mom," Alejandra Rodriguez said.
She traveled to Oak Forest to introduce her dad and siblings to her 1-year-old daughter, Tatiana, Martin Rodriguez's first grandchild.
"He just smiled really big, he was excited. He said, 'She looks just like you,'" she said, starting to cry. "I just hope he's OK."
Neighbor Lydia Ponczak said she heard the sirens and then saw thick smoke, which appeared to be billowing from the home's kitchen.
"You know that those three children will be left with this horrible memory," she said. "I feel very sorry for the children."
Neighbor Sheila Browne said she saw emergency responders carrying Martin Rodriguez away.
"I was just so shocked by the whole scene," she said. "There was smoke everywhere."
Browne said Erica Rodriguez was always friendly and helped once in particular two years ago by talking her through her grief after she lost her mother.
"She more so just listened," Browne said.
A passer-by called in the fire about 9 a.m., and eight firetrucks and about four or five ambulances were at the scene, Anderson said. The two-story beige home was severely damaged and roped off with yellow caution tape.
The Oak Forest Police and Fire departments, the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force and the State Fire Marshal's office will continue investigating.
Written by Chicago Tribune